You can rock your medical school interview! Here’s how!
Are you ready for your medical school interview?
We know that applying to an Australian medical school is a big deal, and one of the most stress-inducing parts of the process can be the interview portion!
Being prepared and having an idea of the types of questions you may be asked will certainly pay off and help you to feel more comfortable. During your medical school interview, you may encounter questions ranging from the basics like your work history and volunteer experience to more situational and behavioral questions. Here are some ways to help you rock your Australian medical school interview!
Preparation before the interview
First, what is a multi-mini interview (MMI)?
The MMI is an assessment of applicants’ personal and professional attributes. It is designed to test your reasoning and problem-solving skills in a range of areas that the school considers important in entry-level students, as well as your values and commitment. The assessment is conducted through a range of different authentic scenarios that test specific characteristics.
Set a calendar reminder
Your educational future is potentially riding on this interview! As soon as you receive the date and time for your interview, put it in your calendar and set a reminder.
#OzTREKKtip: Don’t ask them to reschedule unless it’s an emergency. Spots fill up extremely quickly and it can be difficult to juggle dozens of applicants. If you truly can’t attend your interview at the specified time, you must contact the university’s admissions office as soon as possible. They will make reasonable efforts to accommodate your needs but cannot guarantee that an alternative interview time will be available.
Ensure your setup is reliable
You should use the most reliable method of connection available for your interview (e.g., a wired computer connection, where possible.) Wireless connection can be used, provided that it is sufficiently reliable to complete the interview process. Imagine beginning your interview with shady internet connection—yikes!
Don’t have Skype (or the platform they will use)? Get it. Learn about it. Be prepared to know how it works. Especially learn the instant messaging button as this is where you will read the interview questions.
What is happening in the world? Find someone to discuss what is happening around you. Present your views and listen to their views. This is a great way to actually hear different sides of the same story. Practice formulating a position, practice speaking, and practice expressing your opinion! Try to avoid confrontation. Remember you’ll have a little bit of time to mentally prepare (organize!) your answer before speaking to the interviewer.
Do your homework
Familiarize yourself with the medical school. What is the school known for? Why is that a good fit for you? Are you interested in rural medicine? It’s a good idea to know the medical profession—its past, its present, its future. This shows you would like to invest your life in the field of medicine.
If you are invited to ask questions, have some! Be prepared to speak about yourself and your interests outside of medicine.
Do you have weaknesses? What are they? Are you working on them? Where do you see yourself 5, 10, 20 years from now? What makes you stand out from other applicants? (don’t brag!) Be prepared to talk about your undergrad degree.
During the interview
Be ready early
On the day of your interview, you must be ready at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled interview time. Your interview will likely last at least 45 minutes; however, you should allow at least one hour in addition to this time in case there is a delay, or there is a need to clarify a matter. Also note that there won’t be any breaks. Use the washroom beforehand. You may have a glass of water handy should you need it.
For verification purposes, you must bring photographic identification (passport or driver’s license) to the interview. Have it ready to show at the beginning of your interview. Now is not the time to go fishing through your purse or digging in your wallet.
Quiet on the set!
The last thing you want during an interview is to be distracted. Choose distraction-free place where you will have excellent internet access. Also important to note is that you’re not permitted to have a cell phone/watch or writing material nearby.
Sometimes it can be hard to concentrate when we’re stressed, and we often blurt out the first thing that pops into our heads. Do your best to really actively listen to what’s being asked so you can answer appropriately. If an interviewer interrupts at any point, stop and listen carefully to what he/she has to say. They are doing this in your favour, as you are likely veering off course in your discussion.
Stay calm and speak slowly
Take a deep breath. The interviewers are people, just like you. They understand that you will be nervous and will factor that in when they interview you. Don’t lie. Answer questions as honestly as possible. If you don’t know how to answer the question, a simple “I’m not sure” is far better than a long-winded lie.
Be yourself. Putting on an act to impress people is rarely successful, is usually transparent, and is most often a turnoff. If an interviewer has a bad first impression about you, the other aspects of that station will likely be graded poorly. Remember, the interviewers are people too, and they are likely volunteering in the MMI process. This is especially important if you consider an interviewer may not even be listening to a word you are saying. At the end of the station, the interviewer may look back at the past 7 or so minutes and depending on how much verbal diarrhea you may have spewed out, they may only remember how calm, collected, and eloquently spoken you are.
Dress to impress
This is a no-brainer. Dress appropriately. No one wants to see you just out of bed, in a T-shirt, or wearing exercise gear. You are interviewing for a professional degree!
The questions are not “black and white,” “right or wrong.” The interviewers are interested in your passion for medicine, your thought processes, your communication skills, and your personality.
Stations can be loosely categorized into ethical-dilemma situations, teamwork-based situations, professionalism situations, differing-opinion situations, etc. Figure out what kind of general situation you are in and then present not only how you view the situation, but also from the viewpoint of bystanders and/or the opposing party. Think outside the box. Have empathy.
Generally speaking, the medical schools will be looking for the following skills and attributes from applicants:
- Knowledge relevant to the question and your ability to formulate an approach to address the topic
- The capacity to draw implications from your knowledge
- Insight into you own attitudes and views (and that of others) relevant to the issue
Finally, don’t forget to thank the interviewers for taking the time to meet with you and for the opportunity to participate. Appreciation goes a long way!
Need more tips? Check these out!
- Amogh gives his top 5 communication tips for MMIs
- Emma shares her advice on how to prepare for your med school interview
- Brittani blogs about how to ace your MMIs